The trial of Gerard Lopes, a South Florida man accused of raping and killing his adoptive mother, began on Monday. Public defenders Samantha Epstein and Jose Reyes, prosecutor Adriana Alcalde-Padron and Brianna Belmonte, the daughter of victim Natalie Belmonte, spoke about the case.
Closing arguments began Monday in the trial of a South Florida man accused of raping and killing his adoptive mother.
Gerard A. Lopes, 23, is charged with premeditated murder in the death of 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte, whose bludgeoned body was found in a marsh near their Pembroke Pines home in July 2011.
Prosecutors claim Lopes, who has pleaded not guilty, sexually assaulted his adoptive mother before killing her. In a previous hearing, state prosecutors sought approval to introduce DNA evidence they say shows the motive was sexual assault.
An autopsy showed that semen found in Belmonte matched Lopes’ DNA, but Lopes’ attorneys argue it's not relevant because the sexual relationship was consensual.
During that hearing, the state called a DNA expert, Dr. Martin Tracey, to the stand. Tracey testified the level of integrity of the DNA found shows the semen was deposited at the time of the murder.
Police said security video from a neighbor’s house shows Belmonte and Lopes, who was 21 at the time of his 2011 arrest, leaving in the same car and stopping at a Walgreens before heading to a party.
The car returns with both individuals around 2:48 a.m. A short time later, Lopes is seen dragging a bag across the driveway and loading bags into the trunk. Belmonte's body would be found three days later near their Pembroke Pines home. Lopes' clothing was found in a dumpster with Belmonte's blood on it.
Belmonte's sister Michaela Teixeira had said: "There's absolutely no way she had a consensual sexual relationship with her son,” she said.
Defense attorney Jose Reyes said, "There is no evidence of ill will."
Jury deliberations were expected to begin Tuesday.